Sunday, March 31, 2013

Top of the South Adventure - Day 1

Tuesday 26th March

So, as I mentioned the other day I was forced (ahem) to take some time off work so I thought that I'd best make the most of it and plan some sort of adventure.  After a fair amount of day dreaming I finally came up with a plan which would take me and the mighty DL down to Nelson to catch up with my sister (and family of course) and sample some Southern Gravel.  Timing wise the week before Easter looked good as the Omaka Classic Fighter airshow was on too...

In my grand scheme I decided that I was going to make the most of my time off by making sure that I got an early ferry down and a late one back so I could maximise my time in the South Island.  And so it was that I was dragging myself out of bed at 4:27am on Tuesday morning (alarm set for 5) and making my way down to Wellington and the ferry.

Wellington looking quite nice as the comes up
The ride down was dark and pretty uneventful but it is possible I was still asleep and the DL was just following it's nose...The guys on the ferry were great and I barely had time to take the pics of the bike on the wharf before they let me on (before the cars) to tie the bike down - I was sitting down to breakfast before we even had cast off!

The trip across was perfect and involved breakfast, a movie, watching some dolphins cross the bow and then enjoying the cruise into the Sounds.

Approaching Picton
Landing in Picton the guys on the boat were superb again in telling me that as soon as the ramp dropped I could go - awesome!  Before starting the afternoon's adventure I popped into Picton for fuel and to pick up some lunch and then I was off onto Queen Charlotte Drive.

My first stop (and I had a few for a change) was in Ngakuta Bay where I decided it was time to nibble on half of my subway sandwich.  A very nice spot for a picnic!

Ngakuta Bay
I was only really back on the bike for a short time before it was time for another photo stop at the wharf at Grove Arm.  More great views.

Grove Arm
Next up was a short little detour off Queen Charlotte Drive and into Anakiwa where I could look back across to the wharf in the above picture.

Retracing my steps back to Queen Charlotte Drive I rode another couple of kms before turning off again to ride the winding roads through to Portage.  The below video is just a sample of the roughly 40km of twists and turns into Portage.

In Portage it was time for the rest of my lunch and of course a few more pics.

After my snack and a bit of a wander around I had a bit of a look at the GPS and decided that Maybe I'd press on and investigate the far end of Kenepuru Sound.  Eventually I came to an intersection giving me a couple of choices.  The one I took was heading towards Punga Cove and ended up taking me on the first gravel of the trip - in fact the road up to the summit had some pretty wicked corrugations to deal with, it was much better on the way back down...

On the way back to Portage I made another quick photo stop at Kenepuru Head and I even met a local.
Kenepuru Head
Now all I had to do was to retrace my steps back to Queen Charlotte Drive, ride the last little bit into Havelock and then take the main road onwards to Nelson, stopping just once more at Pelorus Bridge for a cold drink.  Day one over and off to a good start!

Made it to my base of operations!


  1. Was great to see ya, Uncle A xxxx

    1. Yeah, I had a ball. Great having a good base to kick off from.

  2. Andrew your country is so beautiful! That is a cool looking little bird.

    1. Thanks - a lot more to come...Wekas are really hard case little dudes, they're very nosy - this guy wandered all around under the bike and I was worried he'd nick my ear plugs...

  3. That road into Portage looks like so much fun. Not a lot of traffic and enough twisties to keep it interesting.

    Beautiful scenery too.

    Looking forward to the next installment.

  4. Great trip mate, I stayed in kenepuru sound with the kids a few years ago.

  5. Andrew - beautiful scenery. Your nieces looked happy on your bike too (I'm sure you pointed out the necessity of good boots (and other gear) for really riding - they look like they'll be naturals.
    I just can't get used to video when you're riding in the left lane - I hold my breath every time, and yet the cars zoom safely past on the right! Then it dawns on me - oh, right - no left! I guess water runs down the drain in a different direction down there so why wouldn't you ride on the opposite side of the road ... now, just how do we explain Britain's road system?